Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere


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Time for cuteness

I was going to write a post about writing this week, but I’m not feeling it, so I’ll give y’all a break from gardens and writing to bring you some smiles.

I know some of you like cats. You know who you are. And anyone who likes cats loves kittens, right?

My son, who graduated from college this spring, now has a full-time job and just moved into a one-bedroom apartment, because after having roommates for the past four years, he decided no more roommates.

Of my two kids, he’s the cat person. My daughter is the dog person. From the time he left for college, he has always said he wanted a cat of his own. The kids grew up with cats (and dogs), so he knows everything that goes into taking care of a cat.

Mr. “I have a really good first job out of college despite the pandemic” adopted two kittens from the animal shelter this month. He graciously brought them home for us to adore 😀

(And yes, B, I was thinking about you when I decided what to put in this post 😀 )

Ready?

My son got one female kitten, Nixie, who is a-dor-a-ble and still tiny even though she is 8 or 9 weeks old. All black, and loves to climb on your shoulders.

Nixie

His other kitten is male, about two weeks older than Nixie, and looks like he has some Maine Coon in him judging by the size of his paws and the fuzzy tail. His name is Tibbers.

Tibbers. Check out that tail!

Tibbers is a little bigger, but still seems small for his age. He’s cuddly. The two of them seem to get along well.

Zoey, however, was NOT impressed. She hissed at them and made herself scarce while they were here. Hence the reason we never got another cat after Socks disappeared.

Socks. We miss you!

Anyway, thought I’d give you a dose of cuteness for the day.

Happy Writing!


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Do not disturb the disturbed #amwriting #amrevising

Do not disturb sign

My writer has a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door to her writing office.

Cute. I enter the office. It’s too quiet. Even with the hum of the air conditioner, it still feels quiet.

She’s sitting in one of the corner recliners with her laptop, a glass of ice water on the end table, and a notebook beside her. She doesn’t even look up when I close the door.

“Well, look at you, love, all industrious and writerly.”

She sighs and flips me a pained expression. “Didn’t you read the sign?”

“I’m your Muse, love. ‘Do not disturb’ means you are all mine.” I grab a brew from the mini-fridge and settle into the other recliner.

“And here I thought you came to write my blog post for me.” She narrows her eyes. “Speaking of, why don’t you make yourself useful and do that.”

Oh. Hand to my heart. “That hurts, love. You know I’d much rather help you with the scene.”

She sighs and bounces her head against the headrest. “After you write the post. Please?” She bats her eyelashes at me like a swooning teenager. Come to think of it, she did that once when she was a teenager. That’s how I got my writer.

“You don’t do puppy-dog eyes very well.”

“It worked back in the day.”

“No.” Well, yes, but that’s not the point. “I was already working with you by then.”

Her eyes grow wide. “No, you weren’t.”

“Yes, I was. You just didn’t know it yet. We’re sneaky like that. That’s part of the capital ‘M’ in my title. I gave you a test, and you passed with flying colors.”

Her mouth gapes like a fish before she manages to speak. “Test? What test?” She shakes her head. “Never mind. Are you going to write my post or what? I’ve finally finished pickling, and turned in my assignment, so I’m going to work on my revision.”

“Fine, love. I am glad to see you working.” She’s been slacking the past couple weeks, with all the garden stuff.

“Har, har. You know I’ve been doing garden stuff. By the way, you saw the feedback I got on my last assignment, right? The one with objective third person and close third person.”

“Yes.” She got great feedback. “No more imposter syndrome self-talk, love.”

She frowns. “I should have had this book done and submitted by now.”

“What did I just say? I’ll write your post, you work.”

“Thanks! You’re the best Muse ever!” Her grin makes me wonder if she planned this.

Of course I planned it. By accident. Oh well. I finished my last batch of pickles this week, not because I ran out of cucumbers, but because I’m tired of it. And we’re running out of canning lids. Seems there’s a major shortage of canning lids now that everyone is staying close to home and people probably planted gardens for the first time. Ugh. I hacked the cucumber vines back, and any cukes that do grow I’ll let get nice and big for the chickens.

Happy Writing!


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Mutiny of the bounty #gardenmn #vegetables

garden shot: brussels sprouts, green beans, peppers, tomatoes in distance

And so it continues …

It’s that time of the summer, when the harvest threatens to overwhelm. And since I’m not going in to the office, I have no one to share with.

I stopped weeding a few weeks ago, because once the weeds start going gangbusters, there’s really no point. They flower or do whatever they do to seed, then die. It’s just really messy-looking. Here’s a shot of our lovely giant ragweed in the raspberry patch.

Giant ragweed blooming in raspberry patch. Ragweed is about 10 feet tall.

Yes, it really is 10 feet tall!

Here you can see the marigolds are blooming now, along with the dill and cilantro (white flowers). The pumpkin covers its corner of the garden and is creeping along the edges.

pumpkin vines in foreground

Pumpkin taking over

Hubs cut down the foxtail grass that was challenging the tomatoes to see who could grow taller. Looks good, except now I can see how the tomatoes are bending under the weight of their fruit. And the blight is attacking them. Crossing my fingers I get lots of red tomatoes before the plants succumb completely.

Tomatoes way in back, along with cucumbers

Needless to say, I haven’t gotten a lot of writing done, with picking beans and cucumbers an almost every day event. If I’m not in the garden, I’m pickling. I’m this *shows finger and thumb almost touching* close to pulling cucumber plants out.
Pickling is not for the faint of heart, either. It’s a full-evening affair.
cucumbers ready to pickle

Cukes washed and ready to go

Dill seed heads

Dill!

jalepeno peppers sliced in half

Secret ingredient!

cannery

Jars in the canner

First, pick the cucumbers. When you have enough to fill seven quart jars (because that’s what fits in the canner), it’s time. Wash the cukes, gather dill, and ready the “secret ingredient” — jalepeno peppers. I like to add a half (or 2 halves) to each jar for a little kick. Load the canner, mix up the brine, and away we go!

What follows is a marathon of jamming as many cucumbers into each jar as possible, adding brine, and processing. One seven-quart batch usually takes me a couple hours from washing cukes to processing. The last round I did I managed to process twice, so a dozen quarts (because I had enough cucumbers for that many quarts).

finished

Voila!

I’ve done 4 batches of pickles, and two batches of pickled green beans (because I can only eat so many and our freezer is, well, not exactly empty).

Ugh. Note to self: no pickling next year. Do NOT plant pickling cucumbers. Repeat, do NOT plant pickling cukes. Just plant those nice snacking cucumbers.

This week we also kicked off our first tomato harvest with BLTs. I love BLTs! Unfortunately, the bacon runs out, but thinly-sliced and crisp-fried Spam is a nice substitute. When we get enough tomatoes I’ll make some pico de gallo, cuz that’s what you do with garden-grown tomatoes, cilantro, peppers, and onions.

Now, if I can get some writing done amid all this garden stuff, I’ll be doing well 😀

Happy Writing!

Zoey sitting outside


Summer reruns #1

Yep. It’s the part about summer when you are flipping through channels at night after the mosquitoes chase you inside and the air conditioner is humming and it’s really too late (or too close to bedtime) to dig into much writing. So I figured if TV shows can do it, so can I 😀

This post originally appeared in August of 2014 (Oh. My. Gawd. I didn’t realize I’ve been blogging that long!) Enjoy this blast from the past!

Orignally appeared August 17, 2014:

It’s one of the last weekends of summer, and school starts in a couple weeks. Where did the summer go? Granted, summer really didn’t get going here in MN until late June after we had torrential downpours that caused mudslides, closed many roads, and wiped out my garden TWICE. And it’s been a nice, cool summer. Love it! The temps, that is, not the fact my garden is a month behind. Still waiting for my tomatoes to hurry up and get ripe!

My vice, though, is lazy weekends. There are many summer weekends that include trips to various family gatherings including graduations, weddings, and birthdays. On the weekends we get to stay home, I have a tendency to kick back in an easy chair, whip out my computer, and write. Besides, the cleaning will be there tomorrow, right?

Part of me feels guilty for neglecting regular household chores, but I do have two teens in the house, and they are responsible for dishes, their own laundry, and cleaning bathrooms (Yippee!). Part of that guilt keeps my muse hanging in the wings, reluctant to sit down next to me for an hour or two of writing. The procrastinator in me clamps a hand over the guilt’s mouth and threatens it with bodily harm if it screams.

My inspirations during the summer include gorgeous sunsets and those quiet mornings when the mist hangs in the air. It’s humid and a little cool, but the fog curtains the trees and blankets sound. There’s a sense of awe that brings to mind a timelessness that leads my writer’s mind toward scenes that involve characters emerging from the fog on horseback or standing within a grove, that muted quiet swelling to fill their ears and hush their words. The fiery pink sunsets remind me to stop and watch, to impress in my mind the splendor of the vibrant colors so I can recall them later.

What inspires you during the summer? Is it gardens of flowers? A sole wildflower in the shadows of trees? The sounds of crickets or frogs at night? The smell of freshly-cut grass or hay? The buzz of cicadas? The sweat on a glass of homemade lemonade or the slow drip of ice cream down a cone? Take ten minutes and describe what you sense in the summer at one of your favorite places. It doesn’t have to be a scene, just pick a place on the beach or at a fair or on a walking trail and describe the sound of the waves or the smell of cotton candy and caramel corn.

Gotta go. My muse is waiting and his coffee mug is empty!


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Virtual Fellowship #amwriting #amediting

My Muse closes the door to my writing office with a quiet snick. Today he looks like a man on a mission–in the Bahamas. Red and white board shorts clash with a bright green T-shirt calling out Adelaide, Australia, with various sea creatures spelling out the name of the city. His flip-flops snap with each step. Nice calves. Nicer chest.

“I see you’re typing up a storm, love,” he says, sarcasm thick.

Yep. Me and my blank screen are going for the record here. “What’s with the T-shirt? Couldn’t find one that said ‘I went surfing back home and all I got was this lousy T-shirt?'”

He grabs a chair and straddles it, arms crossed on the backrest. “Happy day to you, too.”

I focus on my screen. “You know, you could have hung out here during our virtual writing retreat.” I would have liked the company, but I’m not going to tell him that.

“Sure, I could have.”

I feel his brilliant blue gaze drilling into me. I resist the urge to glare back.

“Next year, love.”

I take in a deep breath and let it out slowly. I had a great virtual retreat with my writing sisters. We were able to help each other with plotting, characters, and all those other pesky bits we run into, like inciting incidents and starting points.

Virtual is great, because you can feel like you’re all in a group, but it’s not the same as getting together at the B&B in Wisconsin, where we can really stir up the creative energies. Damn pandemic.

“Hey, if it makes you feel any better, the muses didn’t gather, either.” He rests his chin on his folded arms, looking far more innocent that I know he must be. “We could have, you know.”

“Uh-huh.” That surge of creative energy that buoys me after our reunions was replaced this time by a sort of grief, like I had lost a piece of a beloved collection. “I miss getting together with them. I miss the Inn and the river out back and the labyrinth and meeting at that cafe in Waupaca. Having chocolate and a glass of wine by myself … There was something missing.” Seven other someones, to be exact.

“I know, love. Focus on next year.” He gets up and heads to the wall calendar, where he flips to next August. “Next year’s reunion will be here before you know it.” He drops the pages and returns to the desk. “You guys have a virtual group chat every week, now every other week. It’s not like you don’t see them very often.”

I lean back in my chair. “I know. It’s just … this year has been so crazy.”

He looms over me. “Really, love? You’re just getting that now?” He rests a hip on my desk beside me. “You told your writing sisters what your goal is for next year’s reunion. You will have Book 2 done and either ready to submit or submitted. You’re doing good on the second revision. And you have a good plan for the other project. So get back to that second revision and finish it so you can work on the other project.

“In other words, focus.” He taps my forehead. “Suck it up, and get writing.”

“I have homework.”

“And?” he asks. “It’s writing. That’s what you do. The more you write, the faster the time will go, and pretty soon you’ll be on your way to the inn to meet up with them for your next reunion.”

He’s right, of course. I just need time to collect my scattered focus. Next week I’ll be back in the swing of things.

Man, one month of summer left already. I’ve done one batch of pickles, and I’ll have to do another one tonight, along with some green beans. I knew I’d have a lot of beans, but holy cow! Hubs reminded me that pickled green beans are pretty tasty, so I’ll add that to my pickling session later.

Hope you all are maintaining some semblance of sanity and staying safe.

Happy Writing!